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WILMINGTON 
OLD SPORTS 



1930s TO 1960s 

March 24, 2008 at the Library 




Sponsored by the Friends of the Wilmington 

Library 

And 

Wilmington Historical Commission 



WILMINGTON 
OLD SPORTS 



1930s TO 1960s 

March 24, 2008 at the Library 



Gerry O'Reilly 

Arthur Spear 

Ethel Butters 

Frank Kelley 

Jack Bowen 

Jay Tighe 
Joe Gilligan 
Kevin Field \ 

Hank Stewart, text only 

(Ethel Butters front row center on the coyer, 1 935) 



Sponsored by the Friends of the Wilmington Library 

AND the 
Wilmington Historical Commission 

Text, Pictures, and video are Copyright, 2008, by Gerry O'Reilly, all rights 

reserved. 

Permission granted to the Wilmington Library and the Wilmington 

Historical Commission to reproduce for their mission. 




History through sports 



Courtesy photo 



\l^linington's history through sports was recounted by former Wilmington athletes and coaches at the library 
program Sports in Mlmington 1930s to 1960s on Monday, March 24. Front row, left to right, Gerry O'Reilly, 
Jack Bowen, Jay Ughe, Arthur Spear. Back row, Frank Kelley, Joe GUligan, Anne Butters, Kevin Field. 



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Sports in Wilmington 
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Harch 14, 1008 
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Wilmington Memorial Library 

1 75 Middlesex Avenue 

Wilmington, MA 01 887 

978-658-2967 



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Take a trip down memory lane with local residents 
who played sports in Wilmington years ago. 

Sponsored by the 
Friends of the Wiimin^on FubMic Library 
I and the 

WilMningrton Historical ComjoMission 



The BaU Fields of Youth 
By Gerry O'Reilly 

I remember the first homerun I hit. I was in the second grade at the 
Silver Lake School. The playground was across the street from the 
school and was in the icehouse foundation. A red brick wall, two feet 
high, enclosed the lOO by 50 foot area. I hit a ground ball up the 
middle that bounced over the wall, and I scampered home. Another 
ball field was at the end of Grove Avenue along the railroad tracks; if 
there were no big kids there (Gilligan and Stewart), we could use it if 
we were threatened, w^e could go around the corner to "Benson's 
Park" on South near Lake. Or we could go to the "Row of Pines" 
between South Street and Nichols Street. At the end of Nichols where 
it met Brown Street, another field that was used by the summer 
visitors was at Atkins' Grove. We could also use the field at Melzar's, 
right on the lake. Milligan's Grove on Main Street at the Tewksbury 
line was also M^ell used. Thompson's Grove had a w^ell-worn and an 
over used field that had a left field wall. Thompson's was surrounded 
by tall pines. Saint Dorothy's was built right on the baseball field. We 
could also go over to Pop Neilson's field; the town hall sits on the field 
today. I could mention "Maroon Field" on Cottage Street, but little 
kids never had a chance to use it because all of the older guys 
dominated. Both ends of the common were used and well used. The 
entire common was grass free and dusty. Occasional time was spent 
at the Whitfield School, but not much for the Lake kids. Some times 
when we were hanging around, someone would say, "Let's go down to 
the Town Park. We would then grab our gloves, the few that we had, 
and walk down the tracks to the field. When tired, we made the trek 
back along the tracks back to the lake area. (Today people and kids 
are routinely arrested for being on the tracks and it is reported in the 
crime report in the local papers.) 

The fields fit the area that they were in and might only be 60 degrees 
and not 90. The base paths were well worn and deep. The pitcher's 



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mound was a depression, and home plate was deeper hole, indicating 
that other generations had used the same fields. There were no 
backstops. 

The ball fields of my youth are all gone. Houses now where kids used 
to play. Photos were taken that show what is in place today, as weU as 
some of the fields of time gone by. 

Of note, we were lucky to have a bat. The one we used was usually 
discarded by the big guys; the end was splintered and the shaft 
cracked, but it was well covered by black friction tape; it was mean 
looking. The baseball used was also black-taped, and the person who 
did the taping always did a masterful job. The ball would be hard, 
heavy, and shaped like a lemon. Tattersall's sold nickel "bricks" for a 
nickel, and they only lasted for a few whacks; that's when the fake 
cover cracked off and the sawdust spilled out. 

The fields noted above were in use all summer long by the regular 
kids of the town, and first choice was by the pecking order, or the 
bigger kids were always in charge. When summer was over, "Tag 
Rush" football became the game on the fields. Wilmington is 
fortunate today to have a great many well-manicured, green-grassed 
ball parks, but the kids do not use them on hot summer days to play 
"RoUsies at the bat," "El Socko," or "Scrub." For that matter, they do 
not play stickball, half ball, cork ball, or my personal favorite game of 
"rubbers." Kids, it seems, play only when there is a grown up to blow 
a whistle. 





Front: Bill Chisholm, Norm Stewart, Art Spear, Hoby Spring, and Bob Gk)ss 
Middle: Coach Tony DeTeso, Tom McMahon, Juny Fuller, Bob Surrette, Jere 
Melzar, Don O'ConneU, Coach Ralph Ambrose 

Rear: Mai McKenzie, Walker Spring, Jim Fleming, Gerry O'ReiUy, Warren Butler, 
and Glen Connelly, Mgr. 




Gerry O'Reilly - The last at-bat. 



The last homerim. 



Baseball and Football in the Fifties and Sixties 
By Jay Tighe 

I moved to Wilmington in 1940 at the age of 7. I worked at 
Schirappa's vegetable farm that is still there although not a working 
farm. 

During the Second World War Sam Ethier, Joe Mooney, and George 
Thompson formed the Wilmington Booster Baseball League. There 
were teams from North Wilmington, Silver Lake, South Wilmington, 
and West Wilmington. Most of the games were played on the 
common and at Thompson's Grove (where St. Dorothy's Church is). 
At the same time there was a Jewish bakery run by Harry Sheaffer. 
There was a ball field there. Harry took the players from the Booster 
League and brought in teams from other towns to play us. 
In the fall of 1948, as a freshman, I was a bench warmer on the 
undefeated football team that played all its games at the town park. 
The team only had one touchdown scored against it all year and beat 
Tewksbury 56 to o. 

The Tewksbury game was always played on Veterans' Day and was not 
moved to Thanksgiving for many years. Coach De Teso left after the 
1948 season. Ed Palmeiri coached in 1949, followed by Connie 
CDoherty in 1950 and 1951. After 1948, Wilmington football prowess 
went in the wrong direction. 

The 1953 baseball season lost its ftrst 2 games and then won 12 in a 
row to win the Lowell Suburban League Championship. The team was 
led by Jere Melzar, third base; Dave Newhouse, center field; and 
Albert Ethier, pitcher. Once again, all games were at the town park. 
After World War II, when the servicemen returned, they played 
against surrounding towns. Some of the players were Joe Woods, Leo 
O'Connell, George Shepard, Hank Stewart, Joe Gilligan, John Ritchie, 
Bucky Backman, and Bob Butters. Once again, all games were played 




Sam Ethier and Jay Tighe watching a game at the Wihnington High 
haseball field 



^^ 




TEX "Three Bagger" Johntson was working for the town highway depart- 
ment when Lawrence Street was paved. Following the machine "pouring" an 
asphault curb, Tex cleaned up with a broom. Published October 18, 1956 



e^ Johnston Signs with the Rambidns 



The Ramblers are a baseball team 
Of great and wide renown 
Who very easily can beat 
Teams from any other town. 

The Everett Cardinals, the Salem Witches 
Went home without a shirt 
But then the Burlington Tigers 
Made the Ramblers eat the dirt. 

Tlie Tigers' strength was in a man 
Named Tex, a bashful brute. 
Six foot eight and fuU of strength 
A slugger of repute! 

When Tex strode to the batter's box 
And wiggled his mighty bat 
The fans would cheer for they all knew 
The ball wasn't coming back! 

Now Tex had played for Wilmington 
In days of earlier lore. 
He had even shut out Chelmsford 
With zero for their score. 

To get Tex into the Ramblers 
Was their coach's greatest thought 
But Tex played baseball just for fun_ 
And wasn't to be bought. 



The boys in the Mayor's office 
Schemed and plotted in vain 
For Tex said he was a Tiger 
And a Tiger he would remain! 

But Sammy Ethier was the coach 
And Sam knew a trick or two. 
If Tex can't be bought for money 
Then something else will do! 

Sara offered hamburg feeds with 
Ice cream cones so good 
lb Tex, who merely shook his head 
As he ate up George's food. 

Then Sammy whispered in Tex's ear, 
"The Wilmington Crusader!" he said. 
"Your name will be there every week. 
And Tex — he dropped his head. 

Oh Tex will play for the Ramblers! 
The whole town-wide doth sing. 
The Tigers cry and bite their naUs 
Oh, Death, where is thy sting? 

Tfex, the mighty player, the man 
Who hits so fine and true 
Has sold his soul to the Ramblers 
For just one headline, too! 

TOWN CRIER 



at the town park. Baseball went into a decline until the Wilmington 
Tradesman semi-pro was started in 1964 by Bob Hastings. 
I succeeded Hastings in 1965. We were in the Intercity League, which 
is still in existence. Those were exceptional teams that won two 
championships. Games were played at the new high school field. The 
outstanding players were Jim Melzar, Peter Emery, Jim Gillis, and 
Mike Farrell. As outstanding as these players were, pitching was the 
key. Rick Frotton was signed and played in the Red Sox organization 
for three years. Jeff WOliamson, who played at Springfield College, 
then signed and played three years in the Baltimore Orioles 
organization. Last but not least, Kevin Field, an outstanding football 
and baseball player at Wilmington High School, pitched at 
Northeastern and the College World Series. 




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Town Park 1950 - Jay Tighe No. 35 



WHS Sports in the 30's 
By Anne E. Butters 

When I graduated from Wilmmgton High School in 1935, Wilmington 
was a completely different scene than it is today. There was nothing 
hut woods in the hack of the high school (now the Swain School.) This 
was a place to go skiing in the winter after school. Powerhouse Circle 
was nonexistent. The Catholic Church was in the area of the present 
library; the common was nothing but a plain where we played girl's 
baseball and field hockey. The present high school was a home with a 
large apple orchard. Athletic activities for girls consisted of three 
competitive sports— field hockey, baseball, and basketball. For the 
four years that I was in high school, the same group of girls 
participated in all three sports for the entire fom* years. There were 
no other sports to divert us and we were just about unbeatable in all 
three, especially field hockey. Our games were with local 
communities such as Wobum, Burlington, Billerica, etc. We did not 
have the exposure of today's audience. Another non-school activity 
was skating. Rotary Park was a cranberry bog, which was flooded in 
the winter months for the entire town to enjoy skating. 
Some of the school functions were held at the American Legion Hall, 
which is now extinct, but was located opposite the present Catholic 
Church on the corner of Middlesex Avenue and Adams Street. Also, 
another building where the senior prom was held is now^ nonexistent. 
It was the Grange Hall and was located behind Nichols Funeral Home. 




Baseball - 1913 at the Center School, the last year that it was 
used as the High School 




A 30S Baseball Team 
Front: Roy Muise, Hymie Modell, Barney Solow, Eddie 
Waters, Lefty Balser, Hinxman, and Ed Kelley 
Rear: Willard Fuller, Barney Ring, Leo VanSteensburg, 
Lloyd Lappin, Woody Meadows, Fat Drew, Johnny Couco, 
Johnny Porcaro, and Coach George Kambour 



Basketball 1942 




Front: Jean Holland and Margaret White 
Middle: Ethel Hardy, Mgr., Barbara Higgenbotham, Viola 
Yentile, Margaret Lynch, Mary Ritchie, Dorothy Sheppard - 
Captain, Joe Lynch, Gerry Sullivan, Isabel Cavanaugh, Edith 
Carlon, And Evelyn Wells - Coach 

Rear: Marie Baldwin, Thersa Hutchinson, Jean Russell, 
Winnie Woods, Doris Daley, and Betty Gilligan 



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Track Comes to Wilmington 
By Frank Kelley 
Beginning 

Early in the fall of 1957, 1 was approached by a gentleman by the name 
of Larry Gushing. He was the athletic director, or course. His first 
greeting was "I hear you have experience coaching." How would you 
like to start a track program in the spring? Being the shy type, I said, 
"How about letting me start a cross country program now?" And so I 
did. 

Our first meet was against Bedford. We were clobbered, but three of 
Joe Gilligan's baseball players saw some of the meet, thought it 
looked like fun and asked Joe and me if they could switch to track. 
We ran Bedford again later in the season and reversed the clobber. 
We started cross-country in the fall. Our first meet we ran Woburn. 
Again we were clobbered, this time being shut out 15 to 50 in a 
downpour with a little lightning and thunder thrown in to spice up the 
event. With water pouring down on our heads, we knew that cross- 
country was a clean sport. 

Winter track began some years later. We won't call it indoor track 
since much of the training— middle distance and distance as well as 
the shot put— was done outdoors. Often the shot disappeared in a 
snow bank and did not make a reappearance until the snow melted as 
the weather warmed. Its inception began rather informally in the 
high school corridors. We invented some novel intra-squad 
competition— the one lap run, the two lap run, the five lap run, the 
one minute run and the two minute run. The high jump (cafeteria) 
and hurdles (corridors) ended the festivities. We were accepted into 
the Northern Essex League in 1969, thanks to Ernie Perry, and three 
years later joined the MVC, winning league and class titles in 1975. 
Girls' cross-country began in 1974. Two girls, claiming to hate field 
hockey, asked to join. (We had the largest boys' team in our history 
that year— 79.) Gradually the girls' numbers increased through the 



mid-eighties until soccer, with a cast of thousands in Wilmington's 
youth program, drained away much of the talent. 

Winter track hegan in much the same way as did cross country, first a 
few who would run as jayvees with the boys and then a few more as 
the ladies dared to brave the elements of wintry New England. 
Act III, Scene i The scenario is the same, but the plot thickens as we 
get many really fine athletes joining the teams. I've said to many 
coaches who have not had the benefit of coaching female track 
athletes: "If you get a loyal girl on your team, she will run right 
through the wall for you. They are tough*" The eighties again marked 
the high point of the early girls' program. They were competitive and 
handled themselves well in regional and statewide competition. 
Track is a numbers game. When Wilmington had the numbers, their 
stars shone brightly on the competitive scene; when numbers 
dwindled, the stars lost their luster. 



IN APPRECIATION OF 




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JUNE 18 Ih -V "" ■^ ' i :<-.■; ;"^-r v.. 



AT THE SONS OF ITALY ANGELO GIUSEPPI RONCALLI LODGE 
8ALLARDVALE ST NO. WILMINGTON 
6 to 7 SOCIAL HOUR 7 lo 8 BUFFET 8 301ill-DANCING ' 
$6.°"' PER PERSON 

Sponsored By 

WILMINGTON BOOSTERS CLUB 




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WHS Sports in the Mid-Forties 
By Joe Gilligan 

I played four years of baseball and three years of basketball at WHS in 
the mid-forties. You all remember the mid-forties, right? I didn't 
play varsity football for two reasons. One, I had had a knee operation 
my junior year and had not recovered over the summer, and two, I 
wasn't very good anyway. 

I might have weighed 120 — 130 pounds, which was not an unusual 
weight for WHS athletes at the time. I mention this because a portion 
of the talks this evening have to do with pointing out how different HS 
sports and sport teams were 50 odd years ago. 

We practiced basketball in the cellar of the old high school Qater the 
Swain School, now occupied by WCTV.) None of us were great or 
even good shooters. Boys practiced three days a week and the girls 
two. We were not very good. There was no three point shot, no one 
handed shots from any distance. Everyone's standard was a two- 
handed set shot with one hand on either side of the ball. Basketball 
was strictly a no contact sport, no contact at all. As a rule you were 
either right handed or left-handed and you dribbled with one of them. 
Free throws were shot underhanded. 

When I was a senior, Tewksbury coach Charlie Hazel permitted us to 
practice on their court following their practice. Ironically, we beat 
them one game, one time. To my recollection we also won two other 
games that year by scores of 22-20 and 19-18. Did I say we weren't 
very good shooters? Of course we had no home games but played on 
some varying surfaces. For example, at Billerica we played on the 
stage of the HS auditorium. At North Andover the basketball court 
was only slightly larger than ours and rather narrow, which meant 



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that you sat on someone's lap to inbound the ball. We also 

scrimmaged at the Lawrence Armory, which seemed like a half mile 

from basket to basket. 

The girls' basketball game was played with six to a side, three 

forwards and three guards. We knew it as half-court basketball. The 

guards were restricted to their half of the court and guarded. 

Forwards were similarly restricted, but they were the three that were 

allowed to shoot the ball. Once bounce dribble. 

There were no JV or freshman teams, and as a result the boys and 

girls varsity teams traveled together and played the same schools on 

the same nights. The girls played first and then the boys. 

We were members of the Lowell Suburban League, which included 

Tewksbury, Dracut, Chelmsford, Howe HS (Billerica), and 

Burlington. At varying times in var3dng sports we also played against 

Punchard (Andover), and Tenny HS (Methuen). 

Baseball practice was on the common. Home plate was in the comer 

opposite School Street. At times we practiced at the Town Park and 

traveled by any means possible, generally by foot. We wore the same 

uniforms throughout my tenure, had the same coach (Harold 

DriscoU) for all sports, used the same baseball glove (which we left on 

the field at innings end), and used wood bats, no helmets. 

In 1947 our baseball team won the Lowell Suburban League 

championship. My unclear remembrance is that we went undefeated, 

but I could be mistaken. What I do recall is that the Rotary Club 

invited us all to their luncheon, and we were later presented with 

jackets. We must have been good. The general reward for athletic 

participation was a chenille blue letter to be sewn on an apparel of 

your choosing. I think I still have one— the letter, not the apparel. 

Exception...the 1946 football team (Class of 1947) was presented with 

sweaters fronted with a white W. 

There's an old adage that states, "The older I get, the better I was." 

Not true. The high school athletes of my time, with very few 



exceptions, couldn't match the skills of today's competitors and the 
environment in which they play. Today's HS athletes are 
unquestionahly higger, stronger, and likely, for the most part, hetter. 
Things change and they have. 




First Row: 
Second Row: 
©lira Row: 



BOYS» BASKETBALL TEAM 

.B. HoLmes, R. Swain, J. Gilligan, R. Stevens, 
A. Spear, T. V/icJcs 

C. Woodman, M. AlacKenzie, J. Chinn, V/. Cliischolm , 
N. Stewart, V7, Spring, Mr. Driscoll, Coach 

R. Taylor, F. Johnston, J. Hourihan, R. Ritchie 




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Memories of the Sixties 
By Jack Bowen 

Growing up as a "Lake Kid" gave me the opportunity to enjoy 
sledding, skating, fishing, swimming, and every type of sandlot hall 
imaginahle, in places like Pop's Hill, Silver Lake, Thompson's Grove, 
Neilson's, and Eaton's fields. Neighborhood kids would choose sides, 
keeping competition and fairness in mind. Our games didn't need 
coaches, "soccer Moms" or "hockey Dads;" we made and enforced our 
own rules with the help of our older brothers and sisters. 
Unfortunately, today's kids don't know what they're missing! 
The American Heart Association says that ii million of today's 
children are overweight; another 13 million are at risk of becoming 
overweight. Please, encourage your children to go out and PLAY each 
day! 

In junior high I met Coach Joe Beaton, my first official coach. Each 
afternoon, Coach Beaton would condition us, teach us how to block 
and tackle, carry the ball, and then we would scrimmage. Our 
equipment was high school hand-me-downs. Our football pants had, 
what appeared to be, quilted potholders sewn in for thigh and 
kneepads; shoulder pads? One size fits all! We used leather helmets 
without facemasks! (Coach Beaton must have gone home every 
afternoon and had a good laugh.) He always encouraged us and made 
us feel that we were improving each day. 

Freshman year brought us up to the varsity. Coach Fred Bellissimo 
was a hard-nosed "in your face" guy, the most direct person I had ever 
met. That's not to say he didn't have a sense of humor and was a fun 
guy to be around, but when it came to football, he was definitely the 
"Physical Fred" that we all knew and loved. He conditioned us to the 
point where we knew that no team could out run us, out hit us, or out 
tough us. He didn't do this alone; he had the two best assistant 
coaches ever, Dick Keady and John Ritchie. 



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Coach Frank Kelley, our soft-spoken track coach, was the complete 
opposite of Coach Bellissimo. We worked hard and tried always to do 
our best so we wouldn't disappoint Coach Kelley. We all knew that he 
was working as hard as he could to prepare us physically, and to 
instruct us in the latest techniques to help us improve in our running 
and field events. It didn't matter whether you were a freshman or a 
senior, he always knew everyone's "personal best." 
My classmates who played for Coach Gilligan felt the same way about 
him, as he was always fair, knew more about baseball than anyone 
else; they felt lucky to be coached by him. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention two W. H. S. faculty members, 
Mr. Vinnie Gallucci, my guidance counselor, and Miss Mary Boutlier, 
head of the reading department. Without their efforts and support it 
MTould have been difficult for me to achieve my dream of becoming a 
teacher/coach. 

Through athletics at Wilmington High School we learned to deal with 
success and adversity. We learned to work together and to support 
and encourage one another through teamwork. There were no 
shortcuts to success, either on the athletic field or in the classroom. 
We developed a healthy self-confidence in who we were as young men 
and young women. 

Before I introduce you to Coach John Ritchie I would like to tell you 
that he was very instrumental in having the head football coach of the 
University of Wyoming, Ooyd Eaton, come to my parents' house to 
offer me a full, four year athletic scholarship. That was awesome! 
But John did one better. My sophomore year I was "red-shirted." I 
was so disappointed that I talked to my dad about leaving. It seemed 
like, within the hour. Coach Ritchie was on the phone to me, 
explaining to me the benefits of an extra year of eligibility. He told me 
to make the best of it; work hard and things "would work out for the 
best." Boy, John, you were right! 



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"Catfish" Jack, Tend the Guppy, and "Perch" Curtin 
Cleaning out Silver Lake 



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WHS Sports in the Mid to Late Forties 

By Arthur F. Spear, Jr. 

Ck>od evening. 

It is almost impossible to compare sports of 1945 to 1949 with sports 

of today, 2008, 59 years ago. 

I would like to speak of three major differences. 

First, the population of the town changed greatly from 1945 to 2008. 

In 1945, there were 3200 people, now there are 31,000. In 1945, the 

total high school had approximately 450 students (100 boys and 140 

girls). There were only three sports for the boys and two for the girls. 

These were football, basketball, and baseball for the boys, field 

hockey, basketball, and cheerleading for the girls. 

Second, Coaches. For the boys' teams, there was one coach for all 

sports in 1945 and 1946— Harold DriscoU. In 1947 to 1949, we had 

three new coaches— Tony DeTeso, Joe Donovan, and Ralph Ambrose. 

The girls had only one coach, Miss Greenwood. I think today the 

football team has five to ten coaches plus trainers. 

Third, equipment. I'll speak only of football. Football equipment in 

1945 to 1948 was old— helmets made of leather, no faceguards, pants 

were old from 1937, and, I think, the same with shoulder pads. 

Jerseys were passed out on game day. Being a small school, the group 

of players for all sports was the same through the 1945-1949 season. 

We were like a family then. We were finally reward by the 1948 

undefeated football team with a season score of 206 to 6. We also 

beat Tewksbury for the first time in 10 years, 56- o. 



Art (Buster) Spear - 1948 




Earlier with leather helmet in hand, 
beat jersey, baggy pants, and 
throwing hand adhesive taped-up. 




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WHS Sports in the Sixties 

By Kevin Field 

My first encounter with high school sports began in the spring of i960 

when I went out for the high school baseball team. There I was 

introduced to Coach Joe Gilligan. I played for "Coach" for 3 years, the 

team winning numerous Lowell Suburban championships, playing in 

state playoffs, and participating in the state finals in June of 1962 at 

Boston College. 

In my junior year I decided to go out for football. Coach Bellissimo 

and Coach Ritchie led us to the Lowell Suburban Championship in 

1961 and third in the state (Class C). 

I also played two years of hockey under Coach Cogan. This was an 

independent league as Wilmington was not in any league at this time. 

Sports in high school meant a lot to me and were not only a 

springboard for my success at Northeastern University but in my 

career as well. At a yoiuig age I was exposed to excellent coaching. 

John Ritchie was my Little League coach as well as my high school 

football coach. 

I met Joe Gilligan at a very young age, as he was a recreation 

supervisor. I remember vividly playing tennis, baseball, and all sorts 

of games he would invent to keep all of us occupied and happy. Later 

he would become my science teacher and baseball coach. 

Coach Gilligan taught me much more than baseball. His mild, 

controlled nature taught me discipline, his sense of humor enabled 

me to endure mistakes and defeat, and his philosophy of trying your 

hardest enabled me to be labeled a 'Svinner." More importantly, his 

friendship over all these nearly 50 years means more to me than he 

will ever imagine. 

Even though sports has drastically changed since the 6o's, namely 

with modem equipment, more organization, better conditioning and 

the advancement of women's sports, I hope one thing never changes. 



31 



That is, coaches who do not just want to win, but who sincerely care 
about their athletes as persons with individual needs. 




Kevin Field on the mound at Fenway Park 



?? 



V 




Rear - Emery, Gillis, Farrell, Robbins, Anderson, Williamson, 

Damelio, and Sugarman 

Front - Gilligan, Grant, Blackburn, Field, Froton, Frost, and 

Melchiono 




Rear - Froton, Woods, Field, Williamson, Farrell, and Gilligan 
Front - Grant, Melzar, Beaton, Damelio, Casey, and Gillis 



^■> 



Wilmington Sports 1941 to 1945 
By Hank Stewart 

Everything after December 7, 1941, centered around World War II. At 
Wilmington the 1941 football schedule was completed and after that 
all sports were affected in some way or another. 

After Pearl Harbor, on December 8, a general assembly was called in 
the high school gym. Stephen "Sparky" Bean, superintendent of the 
Wilmington school system, had set up his radio in the high school 
gym so that the whole school could listen while FDR officially 
declared war on Japan and Germany. After the declaration, Mr. Bean 
got up in ft*ont of the assembly and in tears said, "What a sad day this 
is, but we have to go fight a war." We really didn't understand what 
he was saying, but years later I understand. 

The other thing at this time was that the draft was already in effect 
with the minimum age of 21. This minimum age was changed to 18 in 
November 1942. This meant that boys of high school age could now be 
drafted. The rules were modified so that boys who turned 18 between 
September 1 and December 31 were drafted after January 1 of the 
following year. Those who turned 18 after January 1 were drafted 
right after their birthdays. Those who didn't want to go into the Army 
beat the system by voluntarily enlisting in some other branch of the 
service (Navy, Marines, Army Air Corps or Coast Guard) before they 
turned 18. This required a parent's signature. 

This and some other factors led to canceling basketball in the 1942 
and 1943 seasons and baseball in 1943. Some of the other towns 
around canceled their whole sports programs. Burlington was one of 
them and I can't remember any others. This led to a scheduling 
problem, and I remember playing against some teams that we never 
would normally have played (Essex Agricultural School, Phillips 
Academy JVs (baseball), Shirley Reformatory (football), Lowell High 
School JVs (football), and probably a couple of others I don't 



-^^ 



remember. This had an effect on team sports, particularly on 

basketball and baseball. 

(As an aside, the Marines never had to use an3ihing but volunteers 

until the Korean War, and Joe Gilligan is one of the few people who 

were ever drafted into the Marines.) 

I have a problem trying to remember the players on any of the teams 

and in some cases the spelling of their names. I have also eliminated 

the position for each individual as I also don't remember who played 

where. 

1941 Football: 

Herby Higginbottom, Boo Shepard, Leo Ring, George Pickowicz, 
Calvin Drew, Turk Stewart, Ralph Garland, Dick Carpenter, Doug 
Palmer, Louis Tarricone, and Leo Zannotti 

1942 Baseball: 

Leo Zannotti, George Pickowitz, Leo Ring, Turk Stewart, Boo 
Shepard, Ralph Garland, Bob Butters, and Hyman Jacobs 

1942 Football 

George Pickowitz, Calvin Drew, Leo Ring, Leo Zannotti, Bob Pilcher, 
Leo O'Connell, Cid Tessicini, Paul Biggar, and there were also two 
Lacosse brothers whose first names I can't remember. I ivas on the 
football squad this year and got into two or three games at cleanup 
time. 

1943 Baseball - no team 

The seniors who missed out on this season were Boo Shepard, Leo 
Ring, Leo Zannotti, and George Pickowitz. These athletes would have 
been the nucleus for a very good baseball team. 

1943 Football 

Leo O'Connell, Cid Tessicini, Jimmy White, Charlie Ritchie, John 
O'Leary, Dick Wilkins, Ray Wood, Dick Bedell, Bill Coffin, Bill 
Weatherbee, Hank Stewart, Gus Blaisdell, Dick Gearty, Ted Nichols, 
Dick Woo<ls, Johnnie Irwin, and Dick Bedell 



->< 



1944 Baseball 

Billy Irwin had left for the Air Corps and Buddy Webber had left for 

the Navy and missed playing in senior year. 

Leo O'Connell, Ted Nichols, Johnnie Irwin, Ray Wood, Dick Woods, 

Dick Wilkins, Hank Stewart, Frank Miller, Dick Gearty, Ted Wicks, Al 

Balkus, Gus Blaisdell, Bob Mnllarkey, Wilbur Sheldon, Dan Wandell, 

Joe Gilligan, Edson MacKenzie, Joe Mooney, John Grood, Tommie 

Haines, and Cid Tessicini, Manager 

1944 Football 

Laddie Harriman, Dick Bedell, Ted Nichols, Ray Wood, Bill 
Weatherbee, Bill Coftin, Dick Woods, Johnnie Irwin, Hank Stewart, 
Dick Wilkins, Gus Blaisdell, Irwin Squibb, Buddy Sullivan, Joe Hardy, 
Marvin Russell, Buddy Sheldon, George Boylen, Al Balkus, Dick 
Gearty, Burt Holmes, Bobby Swain, Joe Gilligan, Dan Wandell, Bobby 
Woods, Jim Welling, Norm Stewart, Carl Woodman, Ronald Eaton, 
Len Cunningham, Danny Clague, Vinnie Anomanisto, Dick Blake, 
Bobby Bennett, Bernie Surrette, (?) Gordon and managers Bob 
MuUarkey and Ruftis Stevens. 

1945 Baseball 

Dick Wilkins had left for the Air Corps before the season started and 
Dick Woods missed part of the season when he left for the Navy. 
Ted Nichols, Johnnie Irwin, Ray Wood, Dick Woods, Hank Stewart, 
Dick Gearty, Ted Wicks, Al Balkus, Bob Mullarkey, Buddy Sheldon, 
Joe Foley, Dan Wandell, Joe Gilligan, and Edson MacKenzie. 



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1950 WHS Cheerleaders 

Front - Cynthia Hale, Dorothy Fidler Mary Ann Curtin, and Dora 

Bourgeois 

Rear - Ruth Motchman, Dolores Cuoco, Anne Frotten, Barbara 

Faulkner, Irene Sharp, Helen Calnan, Leona Porter, Janet Condrey, 

and Shirley Smith 







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1949 WHS Cheerleaders 

Front - Barbara Curtis and Gloria Haney 

Rear - Nancy Marshall, Joanne Murray, Janet Condrey, Anne Frotten, 

Marcia Wisman, Florence Spear, Barbara Hendricks, Dolores Cuoco, 

Barbara Faulkner, and Helen Calnan 




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GEORGE SPANOS | 




Georqe Spanoe' Keetaurant wae open to every eervlceman and 
woman during the war yeare of 1941 through 1946 and the visiting 
membere of the Armed &erv\cee laft Georqe a memento of eome 
eort. Most of tlie mementoe were candid photoqraphe of men and 
women in their reepective uniforms. Tha pictures were in panele 
that eurrounded tha reetaurant. His walls were a complete show 
of patriotism. Georqe a\eo catered to tha naads of high school 
athietee with encouragement and support; ha was tha original, 
When Wilmington was known as tha Spaad Skating capital of tha 
United Statas, Gaorga's Rastaurant was tha maating placa for 
tha skatars prior to tha usa of tha Old South School, Georqe wae 
tha force behind tha Silvar Skatas Special; tha fully loaded ten-car 
tram that carried all of Wilmington, to Boston Garden to eee our 
athlatas in action. George should be wall remembered by tha 
citizans that ha sarvad. George deeervee that! 



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